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UN EXPERT WELCOMES LIFTING OF TRAVEL BANS ON FIJIAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

25 July 2007


The Special Representative of the Secretary General on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani, issued the following statement today:

I welcome the lifting on 18 July 2007 of the travel ban imposed two days earlier on both Ms Shamima Ali, Commissioner of the Fiji Human Rights Commission and Director of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, and Mr Graham Leung, a lawyer and former Fiji Law Society president. I hope that the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular articles 5, 6 and 12 regarding the right to freedom of assembly, the right to freedom of expression, and the right to be protected from any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of one’s legitimate exercise of the rights referred to the Declaration, will be fully respected by the concerned authorities. I urge the government of Fiji to ensure that defenders are able to conduct their human rights activities without fear.

In addition, I call upon the government to create a proper environment for the Fiji Human Rights Commission to fulfil its vital role for the promotion and protection of human rights and for safeguarding its independence and impartiality.